Wednesday, March 22, 2017

At Nerdarchy.com: Fantasy writers

This week at Nerdarchy, I talk about fantasy writers who have written more than fantasy.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Books read in 2017: No. 10 -- Nazareth Orphans' Home Golden Anniversary, 1906-1956

by Thomas L. Moose

Started: March 18
Finished: March 19

Notes: I've mentioned before I have a fondness for unusual, forgotten books, publications that either were never popular in the first place, maybe weren't meant for a broader audience, or simply have vanished from the public's mind over the years. Usually I find such publications in e-book form, as Amazon and plenty of other places online have tons of them, but in this case, I have the actual hardback book. A friend of mine who works for a childrens' home showed me this book a while back, informing me a number of them had been discovered in the home's attic. This is the early history of that home, back then called an orphanage (though that term seems to be out of favor in most places today). I asked to borrow one of the books, and now that I have it I can delve into a little piece of history in one small corner of North Carolina. I'd like to add that the author was superintendent of the home when he wrote this book and had it published by the home's Board of Managers.

Mini review: Some of this was boring, like the long lists of donors and children and staff, etc. But some of it was quite interesting, mainly the parts about the early days of the orphans' home, how certain individuals worked to gather funds, construct buildings, purchase property, and of course, help the children. Some of it was even a little humorous. My favorite line in the whole book was, "Our children are happy whether they realize it or not." Oh, how child rearing has changed over the decades.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Books read in 2017: No. 9 -- Myths and Legends of the Sioux

by Marie L. McLaughlin

Started: March 16
Finished: March 18

Notes: This is another of those quirky little free e-books I find from time to time on Amazon (I've got quite a number of them now on my Kindle). Not quirky because they are weird, but because they are uncommon, not well known, often 19th or early 20th Century texts that have been largely forgotten. This one is of interest to me because it apparently focuses upon folk tales of the Sioux, as told to the author by her grandmother, who was Sioux.

Mini review: To be clear, the author also lets it be known her husband was an officer at various forts and reservations during the 19th Century, so she also heard and/or learned a number of these tales while living in such environs. Many of these are morality tales, but a few seem to be simply for fun, or perhaps were even considered part of Sioux history. Unktomi, a spider figure, shows up in a number of these tales as something of a trickster, not unlike Coyote in some other Native American myths; most times Unktomi seem merely mischievous, but in at least one story he is quite bloodthirsty. Those with interests in folklore, myths, American Indians, the Sioux specifically, etc., will probably want to check out this one.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Books read in 2017: No. 8 -- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

by John Berendt

Started: March 9
Finished: March 16

Notes: I've been to Savannah where the events of this true-crime book took place in the 1980s, even visiting some of the sites of the events, which are sort of historic sites now as is much of the city. I've also seen the movie, but it's been so long I don't recall much about it. I've had this one for a while and been meaning to check out how the author handles the subject matter, so here goes.

Mini review: This was actually a very well written book. It starts off with the author's introduction to Savannah in the early 1980s and the many eccentric characters he met, then goes into the Jim Williams trials for murder. Those eccentric characters, voodoo, alcohol ... it all adds up to an interesting tale, all the more so because it's allegedly true, at least according to the author. A good book. A true Southern book.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

At Nerdarchy.com: Fiction writing

This week over at Nerdarchy, I ramble on about how fiction is possibly the last true frontier for man to study, at least on the planet Earth.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Books read in 2017: No. 7 -- Lethal People

by John Locke

Started: March 3
Finished: March 9

Notes: This thriller comes from one of the earliest stars of the indie writer movement from 8 or 9 years ago (gosh, has it been that long already?). I've not heard much about him of late, but his books still seem to sell. I've been meaning to try his work for some while, so here goes.

Mini review: A former CIA agent who is now a hit man and who still clandestinely works for the CIA as an anti-terrorist juggles multiple missions here, including taking on a Mafia boss and getting his ex-wife's boyfriend out of the picture. It sounds all serious, but this was a novel meant to be full of laughs. Unfortunately, the humor wore thin for me relatively soon. Some of the humor was funny, but the plot was a mess, when I could even tell there was a plot, and the ending became downright silly. Still, the writing was pretty good, and I could see how this could draw an audience. Personally, I don't think I need to read more of this author's work, but those who like silly thrillers might find something to enjoy here.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

At Nerdarchy.com: Tolkien vs. Howard

Eh, the headline is misleading, but not totally. This week over at Nerdarchy, I take a look at some of the roots of modern fantasy.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Books read in 2017: No. 6 -- Ice

by Ed McBain

Started; Feb. 23
Finished: March 2

Notes: It's been about a year since I last read one of McBain's 87th Precinct novels, and since I love them so much, I figured it was time to get to one.

Mini review: The boys of the 87th have to solve a string of murders that all involve the same .38 revolver, and there doesn't seem to be any connections between the victims. So, is their some crazy random killer on the loose, or is there something deeper going on? You have to read the book to find out, but as always, I enjoyed it. I won't say it's my favorite of the 87th Precinct novels, but it was still a good one.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

At Nerdarchy.com: Test yourself

This week my Nerdarchy article offers up a test to prove how much you know about fantasy literature. Only 30 questions, but do you know your stuff?